What Can You Buy When You're Broke?

A recession-proof guide with free answers for those who aren't afflicted by vulgar wealth

For years, people said that you could chart the vagaries of the stock market by looking at skirt lengths (minis meant a bull market; maxis signified bears). Lately, we've been hearing about a lipstick theory of the economy, namely that when the going gets tough, makeup sales increase—women buy more cosmetics because they can't afford anything else. If you crave a fancy name and it's got to be real, Sephora has genuine Dior lipsticks for $25. The arguably even more chi-chi-sounding Napoleon Perdis brand is available at 50 percent off, which means that for $11, you can have a lipstick called DeVine Goddess, which promises to "empower you with sophisticated and chic colors" (though in truth, I could not discern anything particularly empowering about the selection of hues on display).

Strawberry leggings forever
Miisha Nash
Strawberry leggings forever

But there is one special item you can buy on practically any block of the city that is never, ever fake: a 100 percent genuine copy of an exotic foreign-fashion magazine like Purple or Citizen K. These international editions, though pricey, actually cost less than a bar drink in the Hamptons. With the latest Japanese Vogue peeking out of that H&M polka-dot bag as you bask in lone splendor on the Long Island Rail Road to Jones Beach, dressed in ersatz Prada, and with miles of pearls wrapped around your neck, you'll make your fellow passengers believe they're traveling with Luisa Casati incarnate.

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